Return to Bare Naked Ladies

Barenaked Ladies meet The Persuasions!



What do a '90s Toronto pop-rock band have in common with a '60s a capella group from Brooklyn?

Turns out a lot as Barenaked Ladies and The Persuasions found out when they got into a Toronto studio for two days last October to record the just-released (as of April 14) Ladies and Gentlemen: Barenaked Ladies and The Persuasions. "What it took to get us in the studio was us singing together once," said BNL's singer/guitarist Ed Robertson, whose group has a new studio album, Fake Nudes, coming later this summer.

The disc of 14 reworked BNL classics like Old Apartment and One Week - and one Persuasions song, Good Times - came about after a fated meeting at the Apollo Theater in New York City between BNL keyboardist Kevin Hearn and The Persuasions during a memorial to Lou Reed they were both performing at.

"It starts with great music, great lyrics, great melody, and an inspirational feel to the music," says The Persuasions lead singer Dave Revels.

"Barenaked Ladies music is very inspirational, uplifting," Revels continues. "Even a sad song makes you want to move and sway which is kind of weird. It's almost like Motown, which could write the most heartbreaking message in a song and you still want to move to it and feel good. Barenaked Ladies to me is like that."

24 Hours sat down with Robertson and Revels in Toronto, where their fivedate mini-tour, begins Friday (April 21).

What would Lou Reed think about all this?

Revels: He'd be smiling. He'd want to be here to see it. [To see] he was still inspiring and putting pieces together. He was still having an effect. When did both bands fully meet?

Robertson: We met backstage in Central Park at the New York City Summer Stage concert that BNL did this summer. And Kev [BNL's keyboardist Kevin Hearn] invited these guys out to sing a couple of songs [Four Seconds and Sound of Your Voice] with us and as soon as we tried it in sound check, we really hit it off. We spent the day singing together and we said, 'We got to do this.'

Revels: It was just cool. At the end of the song, we looked at each other and smiled. Did you know who each other was before making this album together?

Robertson: I was certainly aware of the Persuasions.

Revels: Nope. [We knew their songs] from The Big Bang Theory. (Starts singing) 'The whole human race ...'We fell in love with that. And, of course, everyone knows If I Had A Million Dollars. How did you choose the BNL songs to 'reimagine?'

Robertson: [It was like] 'What would be fun to do in a completely different way?'And that's how we approached the record. It wasn't like, 'What makes sense for an a capella group sing with you.'It was more like, 'Let's be adventurous. Make bold choices. And do interesting arrangements.


'Fan reactions thus far from both sides?

Revels: First, [it's] surprise. Like, 'Huh?'But then, when they heard snippets of it, they're all going, 'This is - wow!'And a lot of Persuasion fans know Barenaked Ladies. They know the music. Even more than we know the music. So far, what we've seen from the fans, they've embraced us.


Let's talk about your joint tour. (BNL has its own Canadian tour in the Sept-Oct-Nov.)

Revels: We are so excited about bringing what we recorded to the people live. I've got a saying, 'Until you play it live, it doesn't live.'We are so eager, charged. I think that's what's going to make it a real dynamic concert.

Robertson: It's some of the most fun I've had ever in making a record in almost 30 years of recording. It was so effortless and challenging in the most fun way. Like, 'Everybody around here is like really good. So I gotta be good.'It was really fun. I immediately started sharing this and sending links to friends and family: 'You gotta check this out.'I haven't done that in a few records.


Do you feel this will be a major boost to The Persuasions profile in Canada?

Revels: Very much so. I feel they've given us the gift of their music and they've trusted us with their gift. Because it could have [gone] horribly wrong (laughs). Robertson: (Laughs)